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<   No. 944   2005-08-27   >

Comic #944

1 Kyros: So the barge guy let us off two miles from the town just because he didn't want to pay a couple of silver coins? What a tightwad!
2 GM: Would you have offered to pay the docking fee for him?
3 Kyros: Hell no!
4 Mordekai: Especially not after I went to the effort of stealing back the fares we paid!
4 Kyros: Too right!

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2014-11-04 Rerun commentary: The book the GM character is holding here is GURPS Fantasy: Tredroy, which is a setting book for the original GURPS Fantasy setting of Yrth. (The GURPS Fantasy title originally referr specifically to the Yrth world setting, but with the most recent 4th edition of the game, the title has migrated to a generic fantasy roleplaying sourcebook).

The fundamental premise of the Yrth setting is that a mysterious force known as the Banestorm sweeps up humans from our Earth and deposits them on the magical world of Yrth. So rather than wholly fantasy societies, the human population of Yrth bring with them real world societies and religions. The result is that they have set up kingdoms with strangely familiar societies. Tredroy sits at the confluence of two rivers, where the kingdoms of al-Haz, al-Wazif, and Cardiel meet. Al-Haz is a Shi'ite Muslim nation, which enforces strict Sharia law. Al-Wazif is a more tolerant Sunni Muslim nation. Cardiel is a majority Christian nation, which tolerates populations of Jews, Muslims, and pagans.

For Tredroy, this means that three very different sets of laws rule in the three parts of the city separated by the rivers. The hook is that what is allowed in one quarter of the city is punishable by death in another, and so there are often illicit crossings of the rivers during the dead of night by various fugitives.

This might sound like an odd choice of set-up for a magical fantasy world, especially today in these times of painfully heightened awareness of the potential for dangerous real-world conflict between religions. But the first edition of GURPS Fantasy was published in 1986, and the second edition reprint includes the following explanation:

Some of the best roleplaying games have a religious element, yet no subject is more controversial. Fantasy writers (of both books and games) often take the safe way out, providing superficial mumbo-jumbo in place of religion. Frankly, we find this unsatisfying, if not actually obnoxious. Many roleplayers seem to agree; given the chance, they would rather be paladins of a "real" faith than of the Temple of Gooble the Mostly Omnipotent.
A brave authorial choice then, this might be a braver choice today.

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